Benefits Expert: How to appeal a decision and what to do about Child Benefit

Our Benefits Expert answers your questions.
Our Benefits Expert answers your questions.

Q. My son has changed his mind about the college course he started in September, he has decided that he wants to do an apprenticeship instead and will be getting £145 per week.

Will I need to do anything about my Child Benefit or will I continue to get it for this year? He is 18 years old.

A. Child Benefit is usually paid until the next ‘terminal date’ after the child leaves education; the terminal dates are in February, May, August and November, however, where the child moves into employment, including apprenticeships, the payment of Child Benefit must stop as soon as they leave their course of education.

You would need to contact the Child Benefit office on 0300 200 3100 to notify them that your son is no longer in education and will be starting the apprenticeship.

These rules also apply for Child Tax Credit, so if you are currently claiming Child Tax Credit for your son then you will need to call HMRC on 0345 300 3900 to notify them of the change in your circumstances.

Q. I have received a letter telling me about an overpayment of Tax Credits of £4,000.

The letter states that HMRC don’t agree that my wife and I have separated. I have written to them and asked them to change the decision, but I am worried that they won’t change it and I will have to pay £4,000 back which I can’t afford.

My wife moved out over a year ago and I have been claiming on my own since then.

A. If HMRC do not change the decision then you can appeal further which would go to the Tribunal Service.

You would need to wait for the response from HMRC which is called a Mandatory Reconsideration Notice, you would then have one month to appeal to the Tribunal Service by completing an SSCS5 form.

You must include a copy of the Mandatory Reconsideration notice with the appeal form.

You should try to gather as much evidence as possible to show that you and your wife are no longer living together as a couple, that could include a tenancy agreement/mortgage if she is living elsewhere, documents showing registration with housing associations, bills at another property and bank statements showing that you have separated your finances and are no longer using joint accounts.

These things can take time after a separation, but being able to show that you are taking steps to separate your finances can be very helpful in an appeal.

As the overpayment relates to a past period you should try to provide evidence which shows when you separated, rather than showing that you are currently living apart.